Now that I’m fully retired from pastoral ministry, I can sit back and take stock of the things I really miss as opposed to those things to which I will never give another passing thought. One of the latter happens to be administrative meetings. Some folks seem to live for these get-togethers, but I, on the other hand, have no such draw. Other than meeting for worship or fellowship, you can have your summits without me, and I will be none-the-wiser and just as happy. Administration is necessary, even in the church. None-the-less, it is a necessary evil for which I will not pine.
To tell you the truth, a lot of those church meetings were highly superfluous anyway. Whether you call them the Church Board, the Administrative Council, or the Panel of Deacons, there were other meetings that almost always superseded those official gatherings.
The Real Business of the Congregation
There are unofficial (but highly significant) assemblies that usually happen in the church parking lot. They are impromptu and far more honest than those that occur within the building. They transpire as the participants of the indoor meetings are headed to their cars. The real business of the congregation is handled there, and usually, people like the pastor are excluded. The Parking Lot Committee Meeting is where the conversation following the conversation takes place (if you get my drift).
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to hold the Parking Lot Meeting until the official, indoor meeting has taken place. The preliminary discussion happens in the authorized meeting to lay the groundwork for the unauthorized one. Then the real business of the church is hashed out in the parking lot. As a pastor, I was never privy to these real meetings (the parking lot ones), but I’m sure my remarks in the earlier confabs were used as fodder to facilitate the later consultations (I hope that’s not too confusing for your understanding).
Who’s Who in My Church?
The Parking Lot Committee is the real mainstay of your congregation. They are not listed anywhere in the offices of the church. Make no mistake, however, they are every bit as influential and effective as any other official body listed on your paper of Who’s Who in My Church. Getting to know who these people are just may be a priority for you if you care about where your ecclesiastical body is headed. They, my friends, are your real movers and shakers.
Any pastor worth her salt will get to know these folks and will schmooze them as best she can. Ignoring them is highly unadvisable. Crossing them is fatal. Any ministry you thought you had will quickly exit the nearest window, and you will be left with nothing but your clerical collar and your shiny book of polity (neither of which will have any meaningful purpose anymore).
Pontius Pilate assumed he was in charge of the Roman province of Judea. He was merely the figurehead for the Parking Lot Committee who yelled, “Crucify him!” Wash your hands all you want. It doesn’t change a thing.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]